Author Topic: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968  (Read 2878 times)

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2018, 12:57:32 AM »
elmayerle, I agree, I'd have loved to have seen DACT between the Crusader and the Gripen. Especially the J 35F and F-8E/J circa 1969, for example.

Volkodov, the F11F is a neat (and very pretty) aircraft, but with even less going for it than the flawed F4D. With a new engine and modifications it could have been a winner, but that's outside the scope of what I'm looking at here.

M.A.D, the Mirage IIIO as built would totally qualify. No issues, whatsoever, outside of its fairly late date in that period. It would only be in service four years until its replacement came on scene. And you'd still need to decide what to use between 1956 and 1964. The V-1000 is too late and a not a production aircraft anyway, so way out of scope.

Old Wombat, that was actually my original plan, and I still think it's a totally workable, very practical, and very affordable. That's really a philosophical question, though, and in many ways makes the question harder, not easier. If you decide that—since all combat's going to be subsonic anyway—you don't even need a supersonic fighter, then you have to consider the Sabre (in its various forms), the Hunter, Mystère IV, MiG-17, etc. So, why wouldn't you go that route? Well I was reading about supersonic vs. subsonic fighters over the Middle East, Vietnam, and India/Pakistan. Long story short, if both pilots know what they're doing, the faster fighter controls the engagement. He decides when (and if) to fight and the subsonic fighter is largely at its mercy, just hoping the faster one will make a mistake he can exploit. While that may work in a purely defensive scenario, that doesn't lend itself to air superiority/dominance, regardless of whose territory you're flying over.

[Mirage, Lightning, F-8, Draken, F-5]


Thanks for the response, Rickshaw! Let's unpack it, from simplest to most complex. I love the F-5, especially the F-5E. It was a fantastic plane and—I think quite underrated. Had it existed in this timeframe, that'd unquestionably be my choice, but the F-5E didn't enter service until 1973 at the earliest. Way too late. Even the F-5A didn't enter service until 1964, which doesn't give it a whole lot of time before the F-4E comes online. Same issue as the Mirage IIIO that M.A.D was mentioning. On top of all that, the F-5A was really a fighter-bomber. More comparable to the Mirage V, G.91, or A-4. Great, efficient little attack or multirole plane, but not really air superiority until the F-5E.



As for the Lightning, it never carried Sidewinders at any time in any configuration, did it? I'm convinced that the Firestreak and Red Top (especially) were better than early Sidewinders in a number of ways, but I do worry about their ability to be employed against maneuvering fighters in close combat. The AIM-9B is the only AAM of 1960 that I'd be willing to bet my life on, and I haven't yet come across anything yet to disabuse me of that notion. No matter what, though, the Lightning is out of consideration because—until the F.6—you had to choose between fuel and guns. The problem is that you need both. The F.6 doesn't enter service until 1965-66, and by then you're almost at the F-4E, so what's the point? It's really not a contender.

The Draken's radar issues were fairly common for the day, as you note, but the earlier model had the same radar as the Mirage III, so you can't rate it any lower. The later Swedish radars were superior to the French one, too. In short, I don't know that radar performance was a particular strong suit of the Draken, but once they were installed, I don't see how you can rate it any lower than the Mirage III in that category.

You say the F-8 was a dog in many ways, care to expound on that? That's not what most of the pilot accounts I've come across say. They definitely liked the power that came with the later -16 and -20 versions of the J57, but most of the complaints seem to deal with the power available in tricky carrier landings and takeoffs in the tropics, a situation that it's hard to compare with the land-based fighters on this list. The lack of a BVRAAM in that day wasn't much of a disadvantage since the ones that were around were pretty much terrible. The ammunition feed was a real issue, and I think the biggest letdown it has compared to the Mirage III and its excellent 30mm DEFA guns with plenty of ammo.

Finally, mind pointing to some of the accounts of the Mirage IIIO vs US F-5 Aggressors? I can imagine the Mirage III may have some advantage at high speeds, potentially, but that'd be about it, I'd think. Israeli pilots seemed to rate the Mirage III as comparable to the MiG-21, with the Mirage III having the advantage in the horizontal, at high speeds, and at low level. They generally rated the MiG-21 as better in the vertical, high altitude, and low speeds. I've read similar things from Indian and Pakistani pilots, too. In fact, Pakistani pilots that flew both the MiG-19 and Mirage said the MiG-19 was far better in the horizontal plane than the Mirage and would try to get the Mirage in a maneuvering fight in DACT, where they knew they had the upper hand.

Furthermore, US aggressor pilots flew both Kfirs and F-5Es and considered the F-5E to be the more maneuverable of the two. In fact, the Kfir was chosen because its handling characteristics were similar to the MiG-23 (aka not agile).



Finally, I'd recommend reading the interview of the Ejército del Aire pilot Gonzalo O'Kelly on the Hush-Kit blog.

Hush-Kit: Mirage Pilot Interview Parts 1-5

Quote from: Gonzalo O'Kelly
What was the Mirage like in the following ways:

A. Instantaneous and sustained turn rates

“Well, not very good at instantaneous- but better in sustained turns as with everything else, with the nose down.”

B. Agility

“Hmmmm, next question please.”

C. Climb rate

“Good enough in those years.”


He says they wouldn't dogfight in close with the Mirage F1 because they didn't have the agility to match it. In fact, he compares the Mirage III to the F-104 in terms of handling optimization, which matches what I've read in other places. Again, no slouch, but not in the same category as its subsonic predecessors, an F-5E, or any of the Teen series, for instance.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline GTX_Admin

  • Evil Administrator bent on taking over the Universe!
  • Administrator - Yep, I'm the one to blame for this place.
  • Whiffing Demi-God!
    • Beyond the Sprues
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2018, 02:01:10 AM »
the R.530 had interchangeable homing heads - IR and Semi-Active Radar homing.   

IR version was not introduced until the early 1970s and therefore out of the bounds of this scenario
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 06:34:09 AM by GTX_Admin »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline GTX_Admin

  • Evil Administrator bent on taking over the Universe!
  • Administrator - Yep, I'm the one to blame for this place.
  • Whiffing Demi-God!
    • Beyond the Sprues
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2018, 02:36:49 AM »
As I said right at the start, this really comes down to how one defines the mission.  Although the pure air-to-air combat (dogfighting) is the most obvious approach and the one most seem to think of (and thus derive parameters/comparisons based on aircraft performance for), it is not the only method of obtaining air superiority. In fact, historically the most effective method of gaining air superiority is the destruction of enemy aircraft on the ground and/or the destruction of the supporting infrastructure by which an opponent may mount their own air operations (i.e. attacking fuel supplies, cratering runways etc).  In this context something that is multirole does have a place.

If we only wish to look at the pure air-to-air format though, I would offer these points to consider:

  • Are you only talking in a Defensive environment or in an Offensive environment? If purely defensive then your interceptors (F-102, F-106, EE. Lightning etc) are more balanced in that aspects such as endurance - both in terms of fuel (how long can you stay in the air) and weapons compliment (how many 'arrows do you have in your quiver) - become less of an issue.  If however, you want to achieve air superiority over an enemy's territory (i.e. offensive air superiority) than aspects such as range and weapons compliment become more important.  This situation would potentially give platforms such as the F-4 more points, especially if aerial refuelling is taken out of the mix;
  • Aspects such as supersonic capability also become less of a determiner if one considers that for the period being looked at ('56 - 68), many opponents were still subsonic (e.g. flying things such as Sabres, MiG-15/17s etc) so whilst having supersonic performance does offer some advantages, once you got down to turning and burning it becomes less of an advantage and certainly chews into fuel reserves.  In fact, one might argue that supersonic performance is more beneficial in the defensive role than the offensive role given the impact on endurance.

Looking further at lists of aircraft (and my earlier list was just a quick snapshot), one might expand it to include:

Dassault Mystère including the later IV and Super Mystère developments - all of which were still being produced up until the late '1950s;
North American F-100 Super Sabre;
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19;
North American F-86 Sabre - including developments such as the CAC Sabre (still in production in 1961) and Canadair Sabre;
MiG-17 - still in production in the period of this scenario and still giving good account for itself against latter opponents - just look at Vietnam;
Hawker Hunter - only entered RAF service in 1954 and only retired from its day fighter role in the RAF by 1963 so still arguably a song candidate;
McDonnell F-101 Voodoo - although often overshadowed by platforms such as the F-4 and often used as a nuclear-armed fighter-bomber and a photo reconnaissance aircraft it was originally designed as a long-range bomber escort and was used by the RCAF as an interceptor (something at least one of our members is familiar with).  It had a good range, good performance and a reasonable weapons load;
Grumman F-11 Tiger/F11F-1F Super Tiger
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 03:14:36 AM by GTX_Admin »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2018, 05:07:58 AM »
If we only wish to look at the pure air-to-air format though, I would offer these points to consider:

  • Are you only talking in a Defensive environment or in an Offensive environment? If purely defensive than your interceptors (F-102, F-106, EE. Lightning etc) are more balanced in that aspects such as endurance - both in terms of fuel (how long can you stay in the air) and weapons compliment (how many 'arrows do you have in your quiver) - become less of an issue.  If however, you want to achieve air superiority over an enemy's territory (i.e. offensive air superiority) than aspects such as range and weapons compliment become more important.  This situation would potentially give platforms such as the F-4 more points, especially if aerial refuelling is taken out of the mix;
  • Aspects such as supersonic capability also become less of a determiner if one considers that for the period being looked at ('56 - 68), many opponents were still subsonic (e.g. flying things such as Sabres, MiG-15/17s etc) so whilst having supersonic performance does offer some advantages, once you got down to turning and burning it becomes less of an advantage and certainly chews into fuel reserves.  In fact, one might argue that supersonic performance is more beneficial in the defensive role than the offensive role given the impact on endurance.


I agree with these points completely. I would say that the scenario favors defense, but not exclusively. If attacked by neighbors, you'd want to be able to take the fight to them, I'd think. I'm evaluating other platforms separately for the strike role, so the multi-role aspect isn't huge, but you're going to want to escort strike packages. Also, I'm not specifying the size of the nation, but don't assume it's Singapore or Monaco. There's no range requirement, but assume that more range is better.

A lot of the aircraft you mention are let down by their weapons. The F-102, F-106, F-101, etc. Those Falcons were terrible, and no guns is no good.

The subsonic fighters are good, and the best dogfighters around. If you're in a Sabre, MiG-17, Hunter, or Skyhawk and can drag your opponent into a turning fight, you're likely to come out on top. Even more so if it's upgraded with Sidewinders. Still, though, if your opponent shows up flying MiG-21s, Mirage IIIs, F-104s, or Crusaders, you're pretty much at their mercy. In this timeframe, those types saw extensive combat in the Vietnam War, 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, and Six-Day War. That's in addition to smaller skirmishes and confrontations such as the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, 1962 Dutch-Indonesian Conflict, Cuban Missile Crisis, 1967 Taiwan Strait Crisis, War of Attrition, etc.



That's what led me to pose this question. I didn't think I could get by with the pre-1956 types until 1968. Ask yourself if you could come out on top with your fighter of choice on either side of those conflicts. I wasn't convinced that a Sabre or Hunter would acquit themselves spectacularly if they had to go up against an enemy force consisting largely of Mirage IIIs or MiG-21s if the pilots were of a roughly equal skill level.

The Mirage III and MiG-21 are the obvious and proven choices in this scenario, certainly. But was there anything better? I put forward the Saab Draken and Vought Crusader, but I'm open to other ideas or knowledge that might help make a determination between those options.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Kelmola

  • Seeking motivation to start buillding the stash
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2018, 05:40:46 AM »
Funnily enough, many second-generation MiG-21's did not carry a gun, and their primary weapon was the K-13/AA-2, which was a direct copy of AIM-9B. (Curiously enough, most kills achieved by a MiG-21 used the Atoll, not the gun.) Also, it had shorter legs than a Lightning.

My choice would still be the gunless, AIM-9B and AIM-7C armed F-4B/C. Yes, the missiles were not much to write home about, but the tactics were the biggest failure of all. If you're trying to turn with a MiG-17/Sabre/Hunter in a F-4, or firing any early BVR missiles at point-blank range, you're doing it wrong. The F-4 had the speed to disengage and only accept advantageous fights against subsonic opponents (or if you're feeling bold, enough thrust to take the fight into vertical), most importantly enough fuel to exploit this, and a real BVR missile. Yes, in slow speeds the MiG-21 was more agile, but the trick was again to not get dragged into a stallfight; in high speeds, there was no noticeable difference.

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2018, 05:54:24 AM »
My choice would still be the gunless, AIM-9B and AIM-7C armed F-4B/C. Yes, the missiles were not much to write home about, but the tactics were the biggest failure of all. If you're trying to turn with a MiG-17/Sabre/Hunter in a F-4, or firing any early BVR missiles at point-blank range, you're doing it wrong. The F-4 had the speed to disengage and only accept advantageous fights against subsonic opponents (or if you're feeling bold, enough thrust to take the fight into vertical), most importantly enough fuel to exploit this, and a real BVR missile. Yes, in slow speeds the MiG-21 was more agile, but the trick was again to not get dragged into a stallfight; in high speeds, there was no noticeable difference.

That is one option that I've considered, too, Kelmola, and one that I haven't entirely ruled out. It's a flawed option, but it still might be the best one of the bunch.  It's certainly an expensive one, though.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline M.A.D

  • Also likes a bit of arse...
  • Wrote a great story about a Christmas Air Battle
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2018, 07:01:41 AM »
Quote
The scenario is fairly straightforward. What's the best land-based air superiority option for a medium-sized nation in the years 1956-1968?

Logan,  is your medium-sized nation's AO/threat direction  consist a lot of over water/ice operation? If so considering the timeline you've given, would this then push for two-engine safety / reliability?

M. A. D

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2018, 07:11:37 AM »
Not necessarily, but potentially. Most nations have some sort of coastline, so—like range—it doesn't hurt, but neither is twin-engine safety a requirement.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Old Wombat

  • "We'll see when I've finished whether I'm showing off or simply embarrassing myself."
  • "Define 'interesting'?"
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2018, 08:30:58 AM »
My choice would still be the gunless, AIM-9B and AIM-7C armed F-4B/C. Yes, the missiles were not much to write home about, but the tactics were the biggest failure of all. If you're trying to turn with a MiG-17/Sabre/Hunter in a F-4, or firing any early BVR missiles at point-blank range, you're doing it wrong. The F-4 had the speed to disengage and only accept advantageous fights against subsonic opponents (or if you're feeling bold, enough thrust to take the fight into vertical), most importantly enough fuel to exploit this, and a real BVR missile. Yes, in slow speeds the MiG-21 was more agile, but the trick was again to not get dragged into a stallfight; in high speeds, there was no noticeable difference.

You're forgetting that the USN & USAF went to a gun-armed F-4 (& the USN created the Naval Fighter Weapons School) after lessons learned in Vietnam, where the lack of training & guns had been a serious issue.

Excerpt from wikipedia:

Quote
Genesis

In 1968, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer ordered Captain Frank Ault to research the failings of the U.S. air-to-air missiles used in combat in the skies over North Vietnam. Operation Rolling Thunder, which lasted from 2 March 1965 to 1 November 1968, ultimately saw almost 1,000 U.S. aircraft losses in about one million sorties.[5] Rolling Thunder became the Rorschach test for the Navy and Air Force, which drew nearly opposite conclusions. The USAF concluded that its air losses were primarily due to unobserved MiG attacks from the rear, and were, therefore, a technology problem. The service responded by upgrading its F-4 Phantom II fleet, installing an internal M61 Vulcan cannon (replacing the gun pods carried under the aircraft's belly by Air Force Phantom units, such as the 366th Fighter Wing), developing improved airborne radar systems, and working to solve the targeting problems of the AIM-9 and AIM-7 air-to-air missiles.

In May 1968, the Navy published the "Ault Report", which concluded that the problem stemmed from inadequate air-crew training in air combat maneuvering (ACM). This was welcomed by the F-8 Crusader community, who had been lobbying for an ACM training program ever since Rolling Thunder began. The Ault Report recommended the establishment of an "Advanced Fighter Weapons School" to revive and disseminate community fighter expertise throughout the fleet. CNO Moorer concurred.

Fighter Weapons School

The United States Navy Fighter Weapons School was established on 3 March 1969, at Naval Air Station Miramar, California. The school was formed using many F-4 and F-8 pilots as instructors, and placed under the control of the VF-121 "Pacemakers" an F-4 Phantom-equipped Replacement Air Group (RAG) unit. The new school received relatively scant funding, resources, and built its syllabus from scratch. To support its operations, it borrowed aircraft from its parent unit and other Miramar-based units, such as composite squadron VC-7 and Fighter Squadron One Two Six VF-126.

Its objective was to develop, refine and teach aerial dogfight tactics and techniques to selected fleet air crews, using the concept of dissimilar air combat training, DACT. DACT uses stand-in aircraft to realistically replicate expected enemy aircraft and is widely used in air arms the world over. At that time, the predominant enemy aircraft were the Russian-built transonic MiG-17 'Fresco' and the supersonic MiG-21 'Fishbed'.

Topgun initially operated the A-4 Skyhawk and borrowed USAF T-38 Talons to simulate the flying characteristics of the MiG-17 and MiG-21, respectively. The school also made use of Marine-crewed A-6 Intruders and USAF F-106 aircraft when available. Later, the T-38 was replaced by the F-5E and F-5F Tiger II.

One British writer claimed that the early school was influenced by a group of a dozen flying instructors from the British Fleet Air Arm aboard HMS Ark Royal, who were graduates of the Royal Navy's intense Air Warfare Instructors School in Lossiemouth, Scotland. However, an earlier incarnation of Topgun, the U.S. Navy Fleet Air Gunnery Units, or FAGU, had provided air combat training for Naval Aviators from the early 1950s until 1960, when a doctrinal shift, brought on by advances in missile, radar, and fire control technology, contributed to the belief that the era of the classic dogfight was over, leading to their disestablishment. The pilots who were part of the initial cadre of instructors at Topgun had experience as students from FAGU.
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2018, 09:59:50 AM »
[Mirage, Lightning, F-8, Draken, F-5]


Thanks for the response, Rickshaw! Let's unpack it, from simplest to most complex. I love the F-5, especially the F-5E. It was a fantastic plane and—I think quite underrated. Had it existed in this timeframe, that'd unquestionably be my choice, but the F-5E didn't enter service until 1973 at the earliest. Way too late. Even the F-5A didn't enter service until 1964, which doesn't give it a whole lot of time before the F-4E comes online. Same issue as the Mirage IIIO that M.A.D was mentioning. On top of all that, the F-5A was really a fighter-bomber. More comparable to the Mirage V, G.91, or A-4. Great, efficient little attack or multirole plane, but not really air superiority until the F-5E.




I think you're being overly particular about what you want this aircraft to do.   The F-5A was an excellent fighter by the accounts that I've read from pilots that flew it.   It was used primarily as a fighter-bomber because of politics.  The USAF wasn't the only operator of the type and it was the one that over-emphasised the F-5 as a bomb truck.  Other air forces used it a a fighter and did so quite well.   It was cheap, easily maintained and it did what was asked of it.   Personally,  I'd have liked for it to be fitted from the outset with a bigger wing, allowing more ordnance to be carried.

Quote
As for the Lightning, it never carried Sidewinders at any time in any configuration, did it?


Not really.  There is a "joke" picture of one in one of the books on the aircraft which shows it armed with Sidewinders, placed there by ground crew.   More than likely it would have needed a bigger fin for it but there was not, it seems nothing stopping it from doing so.  Because of the lightness of the weapon, I'd recommend two on each side of the nose, or two over the wing, under the fuel tank.

Quote
I'm convinced that the Firestreak and Red Top (especially) were better than early Sidewinders in a number of ways, but I do worry about their ability to be employed against maneuvering fighters in close combat. The AIM-9B is the only AAM of 1960 that I'd be willing to bet my life on, and I haven't yet come across anything yet to disabuse me of that notion. No matter what, though, the Lightning is out of consideration because—until the F.6—you had to choose between fuel and guns. The problem is that you need both. The F.6 doesn't enter service until 1965-66, and by then you're almost at the F-4E, so what's the point? It's really not a contender.


They were designed to ensure the kill of a big, lumbering, Soviet bomber.   They weren't that manoeuvrable but when they hit, there wasn't much left afterwards to carry on the mission.   They had significantly longer range than the Sidewinder and more sensitive seeker heads.   The Lightning entered service in 1959, the F.53 (essentially an F.6) in 1966.   The Saudis quite liked the Lightning.   Saudi Arabia is a relatively large country and the Lightning was able to reach all it's borders and beyond.

Quote
The Draken's radar issues were fairly common for the day, as you note, but the earlier model had the same radar as the Mirage III, so you can't rate it any lower. The later Swedish radars were superior to the French one, too. In short, I don't know that radar performance was a particular strong suit of the Draken, but once they were installed, I don't see how you can rate it any lower than the Mirage III in that category.


My reading suggests the radar in the early Draken wasn't anything to write home about.  Later versions improved on that but it's performance still wasn't all that great.   I suspect part of the problem with early radars was the size of the scanner.   There appears to be an optimum size.  I have yet to come across any reliable memoires of Draken pilots unfortunately.

Quote
You say the F-8 was a dog in many ways, care to expound on that? That's not what most of the pilot accounts I've come across say. They definitely liked the power that came with the later -16 and -20 versions of the J57, but most of the complaints seem to deal with the power available in tricky carrier landings and takeoffs in the tropics, a situation that it's hard to compare with the land-based fighters on this list. The lack of a BVRAAM in that day wasn't much of a disadvantage since the ones that were around were pretty much terrible. The ammunition feed was a real issue, and I think the biggest letdown it has compared to the Mirage III and its excellent 30mm DEFA guns with plenty of ammo.


Most pilot accounts suffer because they are coloured by later versions.  I have read that the F-8 suffered from a "lack of power" in the early versions of it's engine.   However, I am willing to bow to your superior knowledge.   As for the ammunition feed, it appears to be one thing that only affected to the F-8 more than any other fighter of the period.  It is the one thing most remarked on.   I suspect it just needed some "tweaking" but the US Navy wasn't that interested in it, at the time, because the F-8's demise was already on the horizon when the F-4 was introduced.

Quote
Finally, mind pointing to some of the accounts of the Mirage IIIO vs US F-5 Aggressors? I can imagine the Mirage III may have some advantage at high speeds, potentially, but that'd be about it, I'd think. Israeli pilots seemed to rate the Mirage III as comparable to the MiG-21, with the Mirage III having the advantage in the horizontal, at high speeds, and at low level. They generally rated the MiG-21 as better in the vertical, high altitude, and low speeds. I've read similar things from Indian and Pakistani pilots, too. In fact, Pakistani pilots that flew both the MiG-19 and Mirage said the MiG-19 was far better in the horizontal plane than the Mirage and would try to get the Mirage in a maneuvering fight in DACT, where they knew they had the upper hand.

Furthermore, US aggressor pilots flew both Kfirs and F-5Es and considered the F-5E to be the more maneuverable of the two. In fact, the Kfir was chosen because its handling characteristics were similar to the MiG-23 (aka not agile).


I am always careful where it comes to pilot accounts.   Ego is not a dirty word to most of them.   I've read two accounts of the RAAF's encounter with the F-5 with the Mirage and it occurred way back in the 1980s.  The Mirage pilots claimed they defeated the Aggressors when they came on a tour of Oceania.   Now, they may have had a bad day or they may have let the Mirage's win, deliberately.  However, the accounts I have read appeared to back up that the superior tactics of the Mirages were what defeated the F-5s, not any inherent flying abilities of the aircraft.  They were published in Australian magazines back in the day, so they aren't available any more.

It might have been that the F-5 pilots were just a little cocky and suffered as a consequence?   I think one of the problems they had was that they flew like they believed Soviet pilots flew - with limited creative input from the pilots and a lot of GC input?  The RAAF flew more creatively than they were used to as well?  Who knows?

As I have suggested, the Soviet method of piloting, in those days, didn't allow for much creativity.   You took off, you carried out your interception, you fought, you landed (if you survived) and all the time were under ground control direction.   After Vietnam, the Soviets realised it wasn't working and started their own "Top Gun" school and loosened up their control of the pilots.   Training is always the key which wins the battles.   If you train hard you have a better edge than the person who doesn't.    The Mirage was a good interceptor which got turned into a good fighter-bomber.   It wasn't a super-plane - no aircraft is.   Some are better than others some worse.   It is the pilot and their abilities which are the winner.

Instead of buying a super-plane, I'd go for a smaller aircraft, such as the F-5 or the Hunter - both cheaper and more easily replaceable.   I'd concentrate on the pilot's training.  Purchase a  trainer version of your fighter and teach your pilots how to fly by the seat of their pants.   It might not win you any battles but it will ensure you don't lose many.   Build a ground defence radar network and invest in AEW aircraft.   Make sure it is nearly impossible for your enemy to attack you without being detected.   Train your fighter pilots and use the radars to your advantage.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 09:07:30 PM by Rickshaw »

Offline Old Wombat

  • "We'll see when I've finished whether I'm showing off or simply embarrassing myself."
  • "Define 'interesting'?"
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2018, 12:23:37 PM »
The F-8 would be my pick as an excellent all-rounder. OK, it only carried AIM-9's but they were relatively reliable compared to the longer range & BVR missiles of the day, & it had good dog-fighting abilities at both super-sonic & sub-sonic speeds.
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline M.A.D

  • Also likes a bit of arse...
  • Wrote a great story about a Christmas Air Battle
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2018, 04:47:35 PM »
I support the hypothesis, that due to potential political constraints by the Swedish government  (and hats off to them),  that depending on your 'medium -sized country, and your nature of military bravado,  the choice of the Draken (although I personally love the design and concept) will undoubtedly have many strings  attached with its usage and deployment prospect! But then again,  Australia found this out with its Mirage III's and the French government, didn't it!

M.A.D


Offline Kelmola

  • Seeking motivation to start buillding the stash
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2018, 05:06:18 PM »
Re Swedish government constraining the sale of the Draken, one has to also remember it was powered by a licence-built Avon. Granted, the UK was not as overt with its meddling as the US (cf. what happened with the Viggen and its licence-built JT8D) but I guess the UK could have hampered the Swedish efforts in case the Draken would have been competing against the Lightning for sales.

You're forgetting that the USN & USAF went to a gun-armed F-4 (& the USN created the Naval Fighter Weapons School) after lessons learned in Vietnam, where the lack of training & guns had been a serious issue.
"No."

The USAF added an internal gun and wing slats to F-4E in order to make it a close-in dogfighter. The Navy established the Fighter Weapons School, but the F-4J they went back to Vietnam with did not have a gun or slats (the slats were added in the S rebuild after Vietnam though, but the Navy never added a gun).

The USAF kill ratio worsened. The USN kill ratio soared. Even with the modifications, the Phantom still didn't belong to a furball with MiG-17's (preferably not even with 21's), but the Navy experience showed it didn't have to if properly flown. So the USAF did what Navy had done and established their own aggressor squadrons for the purpose of DACT.

Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #28 on: January 10, 2018, 11:17:47 PM »
I think the J32B Lansen could also be a nice choice, with its radar, 4 AIM-9 and 4 30mm ADENs. Good range and a second set of eyes in the back as a plus. Unfortunately I have no idea about its maneuverability though I've read somewhere it could outclimb the Hunter and hold its own against it, as long as the fight was kept in the vertical.

Offline GTX_Admin

  • Evil Administrator bent on taking over the Universe!
  • Administrator - Yep, I'm the one to blame for this place.
  • Whiffing Demi-God!
    • Beyond the Sprues
Re: Best Air Superiority Fighter, 1956-1968
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2018, 02:35:28 AM »
Looking back to the original post (or parts thereof):

What's the best land-based air superiority option for a medium-sized nation in the years 1956-1968?

Because of the rapid development in capabilities in this era, I think you really need to consider when said nation acquires.  If it was towards the start (say pre-1960) than the subsonic (Sabre etc) or 1st Gen supersonic (F-100/MiG-19) would have to be the leading candidates.  If however, you want to consider a latter acquisition (post 1960 and especially towards the latter '60s) than platforms such as the F-4 Phantom and others become more viable.  To try to select something for right across this period is too difficult otherwise.

No specific threat environment, East/West alignment, or terrain to consider. Aerial refueling is a plus, but in no way a requirement. More range is a plus, but no specific figure to consider. These are not to be operated from a carrier, so that is a superfluous feature. Ground attack capability is a plus, but not the focus here. Fleet size would be around 100 aircraft.

Again, I think some more context is required here.  Are we talking about a nation with a definite threat/competitor at hand or just a run of the mill country.  For instance, a selection for New Zealand would potentially be different than say a Israel.  are they likely to go up against a peer force or not?  Are they likely to be purely defensive or just as likely to go on the offensive.  As alluded to in my last post, a pure defensive role may point you more towards an interceptor whereas an offensive role (or "taking the fight to the enemy") will favour something with more range/weapons compliment.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 02:45:54 AM by GTX_Admin »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!